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Crack down on smart motorway laws

red lights on motorways  

The rules of the road are there for one reason. Safety. But when we ignore those rules it usually means that enforcement gets upped and the penalties hit you harder.

One area where drivers are breaking the rules is smart motorways.

You may have driven on one without even realising but a smart motorway is basically an electronic way of directing traffic. The signs overhead change depending on road works, breakdowns or accidents and it's all managed by the Highways Agency control room.

Rule breaking

The signs above the motorway can vary depending on the need but the most common ones you'll see are speed limit changes, flashing arrows to direct you into another lane and red Xs to signal the lane is closed.

Since December 2016, Highways England has sent 80,000 letters out as warnings to drivers who have been caught ignoring these signs. A third of these rule-breakers were drivers who continued to drive in closed, red X lanes.

Because the severity of ignoring smart motorways doesn't seem to be hitting home to some drivers, from March 2018, drivers who ignore lane closures will face a £100 fine and 3 points on their licence. That's the same penalty for passing through a red light.

Surveillance is increasing too, with Highsways England adding new road-side cameras to automatically catch drivers ignoring the signs.

"It's important that drivers understand that where the carriageway has been blocked by a collision or a breakdown, the price for ignoring the red X could be a lot higher than a fixed penalty notice."

Steve Gooding
Director of the RAC foundation

Don't ignore the signs

Following the rules of the road is a fundamental part of driving. It's the reason you drive around the roundabout the right way and stop at a give way junction; smart motorways are no different. If a lane has been closed or the speed limit reduced, it's for a reason - usually a pretty serious one.

Don't risk it.

""The best laws are those that no-one breaks, not just because the penalties for doing so are severe but also because they are well understood and accepted."

Steve Gooding
Director of the RAC foundation

Katey Gregory

By Katey Gregory

Katey Joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of all things social and content. She passed her driving test in 2015 and her first car is a Toyota Yaris T3 named Tyrone.